Panagia Tsambika is very dear to my heart. After two years of unsuccessfully trying to fall pregnant, I was told by my Godmother to visit a sacred monastery on the island of Rhodes, which is known to help couples conceive.
On a hot 38 degrees day in August of 2011, my husband and I walked up 300 steps to the small monastery, where we said our prayers. As I walked away, I promised myself to keep the faith, trust in Panagia (Virgin Mary), and left it in the hands of God. The second time we visited this holy site was in July of 2013 when we came back to Rhodes to baptise our beautiful little miracle.
The road to Tsampika Monastery requires a turn off the main road, a few meters before you reach Tsambika beach. The road leads you halfway up on the hill. From this point on, you will need to park your car (it’s on the level where you’ll find a store) then you have to walk up the hill, followed by 300 steps. They are big steps and it’s about 500 metres in total, so if you visit during summer, I suggest you get there very early or late in the afternoon and make sure you wear comfortable shoes and have a bottle of water with you. On the top of the hill, you will find the tiny, Byzantine monastery, dedicated to Panagia Tsambika. It’s perched at an altitude of some 240 m and offers some truly spectacular views of the coast.
The miracle of the Holy Icon
Centuries ago the icon of Panagia Tsambika was located at the Holy Monastery of Panagia Kykkos in Cyprus. Miraculously, the icon would leave Cyprus and go to the mountain Zambiki of the Archangel in Rhodes. On the opposite side, a humble shepherd saw a light shining, so he climbed the mountain and went to see what was there. He was amazed that the light came from the icon of Panagia. It was from this point that the icon received its name ‘tsamba’ which in local dialect means ‘spark.’ The villagers brought the icon to the village, but it would leave and go back to the spot it was found. After three repeated attempts it was figured that it was the will of Panagia to have a church built at this exact spot.
Praying to Panagia Tsambika for Fertility
One of the oldest miracles associated with Panagia Tsambika is tied to a Turkish Pasha whose wife was unable to fall pregnant. Learning of Panagia Tsambika, his wife prayed to her and ate the wick which burned the fire of the vigil lamp before the holy icon. Soon thereafter she found out she was pregnant. The Pasha did not believe it and assumed the baby was from another man. When the baby was born, it held within its hand the wick the mother had eaten. As a thank you, the Pasha gave all his property to the Monastery.
Panagia Tsambika is now visited each year by thousands and thousands of pilgrims from around the world, many of those are couples (both Greek and non-Greek) who have struggled to conceive or who wish to have their baby or child blessed.
The Monastery Up Top
It is not known when the old monastery was founded, but we know that it was reconstructed in 1770 by a monk. When you walk through the small gate you are able to light a candle before entering another room which has a large icon of Panagia Tsambika holding Baby Jesus. The icon is surrounded by small dolls, icons, and photos of children, all in honour of those who are in need of a blessing. Here you will also find a book where you are able to write your prayers and names of those who you wish to receive a blessing from Panagia Tsambika. From there you can walk through to another smaller room, where you’ll find more icons and privacy to pray.
The New Church
A bit further out on the road that connects Archangelos village to Rhodes Town you will find the new monastery, which also deserves a visit. You will see many icons that date from the 19th century and the actual miraculous icon of Panagia Tsambika is kept here for security reasons. There is also a museum and a bookstore where you can purchase icons and other ecclesiastical items. You can also ask for a blessed ribbon and wick, which is given to couples who wish to conceive.
The Holy Monastery of Panagia Tsambika celebrates its Feast Day on September 8. This is a special day where thousands of pilgrims gather from Greece, and around the world, to honour the Nativity of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary).
*For anyone who would like to know more you can call the Monastery on 22440 22340
All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)